What is “Harassment”?

Alright, kiddies, sit down, it’s time for another lecture with Liz.

Apparently this is going to be a recurring theme since I seem to get so riled up so very easily. Here we go…

Today, we will be discussing harassment. Last night, I saw a video, which I am sure most of you have seen as well, though I will link it just in case http://sourcefed.com/this-is-10-hours-of-walking-in-nyc-as-a-woman/?fb_comment_id=fbc_615866631858960_615873245191632_615873245191632#f2a3a29548 Go ahead, watch it and come back. I’ll wait.

Alright, ready? Now, throughout this video, we see our protagonist, a young woman, walking silently, almost fearfully in fact, through the streets of New York. She clutches something resembling a small weight in each hand, though I can not be sure if that is what they truly are. Over the course of this video we see several different scenarios play out. Various men of different ages speak to her, some simply wishing her a good day, others whistling at her or commenting on her appearance, and a couple who actually approach or follow her. The theme of this video is harassment on the streets, but not all of these people were harassing her. Certainly, some were, but not all.

This video was (apparently) filmed over a 10 hour period. Whether it was a consecutive 10 hours, or just over a few days, we don’t know. That is irrelevant. This video, however is just under two minutes long. Certainly they were not going to post a 10 hour video, that would be silly, nobody would watch it. Anyway, she couldn’t hope to get 10 straight hours of harassment. I say hope because that is the point of this video. She deliberately put herself out there looking to be harassed by these men for the sake of her video. The thing is, this is the two minutes they chose to publish. Leaving 9 hours 58 minutes and 3 seconds (roughly) unseen. This suggests that this is all they could scrape together for this video, which begs the question: why did they include the men who were simply being kind? Those men were not harassing her, were they so desperate for footage that they kept those in to make the video longer?

My main problem with this video is that there is a difference between a compliment and harassment.

“Hey, you’re beautiful” = compliment.

“Damn, gurl, can I have your number?” *follows you for 5 minutes* = harassment.

“Have a good day” = genuine courtesy.

“I just saw $1,000” (directed at your body) = harassment.

“God bless” = genuine platitude.

“You don’t wanna talk? It’s cause I’m ugly, right?” = harassment.

They are not the same thing. They should not be treated like they are the same thing. The danger we run into here is that this video is telling young women that they should be fearful if a man wishes them a good day. Should a man be afraid to do so? No, this is fear mongering, and it is wrong. We live in a world these days where we are told to be afraid. We are told everything is wrong. This video states, at the end, that their goal is to eliminate street harassment. This is an honorable goal, but I doubt it is possible.

Another problem I have with this video is that it says nothing of the harassment of men. We seem to want to believe that only women can be harassed, and only men can do the harassing. This is simply not true, and it sets us up for another problem. Men feel like they are not allowed to feel harassed, like they are obligated to take it in stride if a woman comes up to them and grabs their butt or says “hey, baby, can I have your number?”. We are trying so hard to masculize men and feminize women that we are becoming deluded. Men and women do not have clear cut emotions. We have feelings, wants, needs that are all over the charts, and anyone can be harassed. Anyone can do the harassing. I am so sick of seeing these things targeted toward saying that men are the enemy and women should feel threatened any time a man is around. It is not okay, it is not right, and I will not stand for it.


Thoughts? Please feel free to discuss in the comments below.

Until next time, this has been another Lectures With Liz. (working title, perhaps I will keep it.)


10 thoughts on “What is “Harassment”?

  1. Agreed, with most, but i wouldnt call “I just saw a thousand bucks” harassment. Coming from a man here. It is a compliment, in its own way. An uneducated man’s compliment, lets call it that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just think it is on a different level than a “You’re beautiful”, in the same way the word “sexy” is different. When you tell someone they are beautiful, it is not necessarily directed at their body (or sometimes, even their appearance at all). I was called beautiful twice last week just for being kind. However, when you call someone “sexy”, that is almost always directed at their body. This is why it could be considered harassment. I suppose it all depends on who is in the situation.


      1. kek

        But why would a compliment directed at your body be considered harrassment? If someone complimented my body id say thanks and think nothing bad of it.


      2. A lot of people (females especially, I think) are very self conscious about their bodies, and don’t necessarily want anyone talking about it. Plus, if someone tells you you are beautiful, you subconsciously view them as less of a “threat” (read: less likely to only want sex) than someone who straight up compliments your body. If someone compliments your body, you tend to assume that is alll they are looking at / thinking about.


      3. kek

        Cant reply to the comment so ill make a new one.
        If they are self conscious about it, a compliment comes in good. Let me tell you this, when a man, a random one, goes “damn” or anything seen in that vid (apart from the creepers) is the most honest compliment on your body which you will get. Because lets be honest, friends, family, and boyfriends, are often enough dishonest to spare your feelings (not your, just generally speaking). It isn’t harassment, it is a compliment. If i cant speak my mind, not in a negative way, and compliment a woman, whether its beautiful, or sexy, then something is wrong.
        Stop this victimizing, because of some creepers. 90% of the male population is normal people, should we all suffer for some knobheads?
        Just lucky that where i live, it still hasnt come, all the victimizations and similar things, that are current in America atm.


      4. I agree that people tend to get offended far too easily, and I hate that. I was just letting you know why it “could be” considered harassment. Honestly if anyone ever said something like that to me, I would probably just look at the weird… lol


  2. Siofra

    I think its not the word but the possible intent. Hey your beautiful is a very vague way to get someone’s attention. Was it just complementing, or trying to get her to stop and talk more with them? Then you have to consider they only spoke to her if she was beautiful. If she wasn’t they wouldn’t call out. Why? Intent. they wanted her attention,

    I have read people speaking of etiquette and more. When watching her walk straight ahead its pretty clear she doesn’t want to be bothered in her body language. Would you approach someone Male or female if they walked away in that manner? Would you call out to a male or female your beautiful or handsome if they were breezing past?

    If she made eye contact or paused by them and smiled to them then the complement should have a response.

    When walking at that rate if i were to hear that comment it is also natural to assume hey maybe this person is speaking to someone they know.

    As someone who has lived in the city i would avoid eye contact if and when i wanted to be left alone. One day i was riding the train and glanced about in that process i accidentally made eye contact. He said hi, i was polite and returned the hello out of courtesy. He decided that meant for him to come over and start talking.

    This continued with him asking me out, and me saying no and when he asked why I said “Not interested”. There he asked me if it was cause he was black. “To which my answer was “No” I was beyond offended but he would repeat the questions. What saved me was my stop and got out and left.

    Now I am expressing this because once you have had that happen its hard to hear someone just greeting you without wondering their intent.

    Especially a stranger in a city.

    As for the comment of no not all were cat calls and harassment. However did the man who say god bless say it to everyone who walked by? If so then he was a kind soul. If he aimed it at her, again it was to get her attention. If you are busy, or don’t want to talk are you obligated to respond?

    I completely agree is is not only a woman’s Issue, Its not only a gender Issue. I have seen things happen when friends Male or Female dress in not normal clothing. Having been in the gothic scene. I’ve seen a guy friend be harassed because he wore black eyeliner.

    This was one video, but it does remind us this still happens today. It starts off with a cat call, If it is once and no more it is not harassment. However if it does continue unwanted. This is harrassment. So while yes they should certain clips to get the mind to focus in and say he is harassing her. Some wasn’t.

    At the end of the video they said they wanted to stop this. If they want to try to show one woman’s perspective to educate. I am all for it. If they are trying to make a Law. I think they need to step back.

    Sorry for getting to wordy 🙂


    1. I appreciate your response very much. You seem like you are very intelligent. I was just trying to point out that labeling these encounters as harassment and lumping them all into the same category is inaccurate, as well as potentially dangerous. I can not speak to the intent of these people, I am not them, I do not know for sure what they are thinking. That being said, if we are to get so offended so easily, soon nobody will be allowed to say anything to anyone.


      1. Siofra

        I understand your sentiment, and it is true its a matter of perspective. Every person, not just women. If put in a similar situation will react differently. This is mostly because we all have different experiences, and education, and culture to back this up.

        Personally if someone just said hello your beautiful. I would not accept the complement, But my personal walls would be higher because they are speaking about what they see on the outside. It is also too generic for me.

        That said someone saying hello I love your hair style, where did you get it cut. I can easily determine their intent. So i would be more open to respond.

        I can direct each of these the same way. So, yes lumping together is not the whole picture. However it does start the conversation. We speak and we learn. We learn how sometimes an expression of greeting and friendship can be seen as unwanted.

        So both sides have the responsibility to see how our words and actions affect one another.

        Silence is not the option. Open communication I always feel is best. but I also understand human nature is always a tricky variable.


  3. Pingback: Index of Posts. | Inside the Mind of a Dramatic Mother

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